Five years ago, there was uncertainty for employees at a small freezer plant in Ottawa, Ohio, regarding the future of their operations. Now five years after being acquired by Whirlpool Corporation, the Ottawa plant is thriving and strongly supports the company’s product leadership in North America.
This week marks the fifth anniversary of Whirlpool’s investment in the Ottawa plant previously owned by Canadian company, W.C. Wood. Today the Whirlpool-owned plant today makes all full-size freezers sold by Whirlpool brand, Amana and Maytag in the U.S. About 60 percent of the units produced are upright freezers while the rest are chest models. The plant also produces trash compactors and the hybrid, heat-pump base for the company’s new ventless dryers.
“Our success starts with the skill and dedication of our team members here in Ottawa,” said Jenni Hanna, plant leader of Ottawa operations. “We are not the largest plant in the U.S., but we are very proud of the innovative products we produce. We have come a long way in five years and we have fantastic opportunities ahead of us.”
The Ottawa plant represents a solid success of Whirlpool’s investment in American manufacturing. After first buying the assets of the freezer plant, Whirlpool decided to acquire the plant, thereby solidifying 150 jobs in Ohio. In June of 2011, Whirlpool added another 150 jobs to meet growing customer demand. Today the plant employs approximately 400 skilled employees who produce more than 1,300 freezers daily.
While proud of the anniversary, employees are excited about the next phase of delivering the Integrated Supply Chain’s promise of dependability and quality with their new generation of freezers. Ottawa’s product leadership position strengthened in November of last year when the plant rolled out its latest line of freezers to meet new energy standards in the U.S. The environmental impact of the new freezer line reduces the global warming impact of the insulation used by 99.9 percent, thanks to the new Solstice insulation produced in partnership with Honeywell.
Today the investment in the new freezers is contributing to brand leadership. The chest and upright freezers have entirely new colors and finishes as well as differentiated claims by brand, such as Amana’s Deepfreeze and Maytag’s 10-year warranty. The company is now reaping the rewards. For example, Whirlpool brand freezers beat out Frigidaire for four floor spots at Lowe’s stores across America, representing an increase of about 120,000 annual units.
Also, Ottawa plant employees invest their time in their community. Not only do they build leading products, they also volunteer their time and donate products to organizations like Habitat for Humanity, The Red Cross and Relay for Life.
“To me, it’s exciting to see the impact our plant and employees are having with customers and this community,” Hanna said. “I am optimistic about our future and look forward to celebrating our next milestone.”